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Prep for Game 1! News and notes to know from NBC Sports Research

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A host of news and notes as Chicago and Boston prepare for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tonight (watch 8 p.m. ET on NBC and live online).

PLAYOFF HISTORY

  • 7th postseason meeting (BOS won 5 of previous 6 series, leads )
  • 1927 NHL Quarterfinals (Blackhawks’ 1st NHL season) – BOS won on goal differential in 2 games
  • 1942 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 3 (best-of-3)
  • 1970 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … BOS later won Cup
  • 1974 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 6 (best-of-7)
  • 1975 NHL Preliminary Round – CHI won in 3 (best-of-3) … April 11, 1975, last CHI postseason win vs. BOS
  • 1978 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … April 23, 1978, last postseason meeting
  • Blackhawks (58th postseason appearance, 12th Cup Final appearance – won in 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010)
  • Bruins (68th postseason appearance, 19th Cup Final appearance – won in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)

DID NOT MEET DURING 2012-13 REGULAR SEASON

  • Last meeting at the United Center: October 15, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-2 in shootout)
  • Last meeting at TD Garden: March 29, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-0)
  • Jaromir Jagr (BOS) is the only player on either team who has faced his team’s Stanley Cup Final opponent during the 2012-13 regular season. His Dallas Stars lost to the Blackhawks on Jan. 24 (3-2 loss) and Mar. 16 (8-1 loss), both at Dallas

FROM TEAMMATES TO RIVALS

International
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (CHI) & Patrice Bergeron (BOS) were teammates on gold medal-winning Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver … Bergeron also became a Stanley Cup champion on the same ice (Rogers Arena) in 2011 … Toews & Bergeron are the two most recent members of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic & World gold medals) … Jaromir Jagr has also won all three major hockey titles, with the Penguins & Czech Republic
Zdeno Chara (BOS), Marian Hossa & Michal Handzus (CHI) were teammates on Slovakia in 2010.

NHL
Zdeno Chara (2001-06), Wade Redden (1996-2008), Chris Kelly (2003-Feb. 2011), Marian Hossa (1997-2004) and Ray Emery (2002-08) were all teammates on Senators … Redden, Kelly & Emery played on losing side in 2007 Stanley Cup Final
Shawn Thornton (BOS) played first 31 NHL games with Blackhawks (2002-06), was teammates with Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford (CHI) in 2005-06 … Thornton played four seasons with AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals (2001-06), was teammates with Keith for two seasons (2003-05) and Seabrook (2004-05) and Crawford (2005-06) for one each
Jaromir Jagr (BOS) & Michal Rozsival (CHI) were teammates on Penguins (1999-2001), Rangers (2005-07) and gold medal-winning Czech Republic at 2010 IIHF World Championships
Johnny Oduya (CHI) played rookie season (2006-07) under Claude Julien (BOS) with the Devils before the latter was fired by GM Lou Lamoriello with three games remaining in the season … Oduya was also teammates with Jay Pandolfo (BOS) from 2006-10
Johnny Boychuk (BOS) played four games under Joel Quenneville (CHI) with Avs in 2007-08
Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) were teammates on Panthers in 2009-10
Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus (CHI) & Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) were teammates on Flyers 2002-06
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Dan Carcillo (CHI) were teammates on Coyotes in 2006-07
Johnny Oduya (CHI) & Rich Peverley (BOS) were teammates on Thrashers from 2009-Feb. 2011 Rich Peverley (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) were teammates on Predators in 2006-07 and AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals from 2005-07
Joel Quenneville (CHI) & Doug Jarvis (BOS) were teammates on Hartford Whalers from 1985-88

Europe
Patrick Kane (CHI, 13 G, 23 P in 20 GP) & Tyler Seguin (BOS, 25 G, 40 P in 29 GP) were teammates on EHC Biel of the Swiss National League A during the 2012-13 NHL lockout
Viktor Stalberg (CHI, 3 G, 10 P in 14 GP) & Anton Khudobin (BOS, 2.97 GAA, 1 SO in 26 GP) were teammates on HC Atlant Mytishchi of the Russian KHL during the 2012-13 NHL lockout … Ray Emery (CHI) also played for Atlant after leaving the NHL for one season (2008-09), as did Chris Bourque (BOS), in 2010-11
Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) all came through Kladno program in Czech Republic … Jagr & Krejci were teammates on the 2010 Czech Olympic team
Zdeno Chara (BOS) & Marian Hossa (CHI) came through Trencin program in Slovakia
Minors Michal Rozsival (CHI) & Andrew Ference (BOS) – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL) in 2000-01
Chris Kelly (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) – Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) in 2001-02
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Patrick Sharp (CHI) – Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) 2002-05 … won Calder Cup together in 2005

Juniors
Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin (CHI) all came up through U.S. Development Program
Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland (CHI) and Chris Kelly (BOS) all played junior hockey with the London Knights (OHL) … Bolland was on the Dale Hunter-led squad that won the Memorial Cup in 2005
Brad Marchand (BOS) & Corey Crawford (CHI) – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) in 2004-05
Andrew Shaw (CHI) & Dougie Hamilton (BOS) – Niagara IceDogs (OHL) in 2009-10
Matt Bartkowski (BOS), Brandon Bollig & Jimmy Hayes (CHI) – Lincoln Stars (USHL)

AMERICAN-BORN PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Patrick Kane – Buffalo
Brandon Saad – Pittsburgh
Nick Leddy – Eden Prairie, MN
Brandon Bollig – St. Charles, MO
Ben Smith – Winston-Salem, NC

Bruins
Torey Krug – Livonia, MI
Matt Bartkowski – Pittsburgh
Jay Pandolfo – Winchester, MA
Carter Camper – Rocky River, OH
Chris Bourque – Boston

UNIVERSITY PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Jimmy Hayes (Boston College – 09,10,11)
Ben Smith (Boston College – 07,08,09,10)
Duncan Keith (Michigan State – 02,03)
Nick Leddy (Minnesota – 10)
Jonathan Toews (North Dakota – 06,07)
Brandon Pirri (RPI – 10)
Brandon Bollig (St. Lawrence – 09,10)
Patrick Sharp (Vermont – 01,02)
Viktor Stalberg (Vermont – 07,08,09)
Jamal Mayers (Western Michigan – 93,94,95,96)

Bruins
Chris Bourque (Boston University – 05)
Jay Pandolfo (Boston University – 93,94,95,96)
Bob Essensa (Michigan State – 84,85,86,87)
Torey Krug (Michigan State – 10,11,12)
Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State – 09,10)
Rich Peverley (St. Lawrence – 01,02,03,04)

PREVIOUS STANLEY CUP WINNERS

with 2010 Blackhawks (8 players of 21, 2 coaches):
Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews (captain, Conn Smythe winner), Joel Quenneville (head coach), Stephane Waite (asst)
with other franchises (1 coach):
Jamie Kompon (asst, 2012 Kings)

with 2011 Bruins (17 players of 21, 4 coaches):
Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara (captain), Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Claude Julien (head coach), Doug Houda (asst), Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward (asst), Bob Essensa (asst)
with other franchises (4 players, 1 coach):
Jaromir Jagr (1991, 1992 Penguins), Jay Pandolfo (2000, 2003 Devils), Shawn Thornton (with 2007 Ducks), Doug Jarvis (1976-79 Canadiens as player; 1999 Stars as asst coach)

SEEKING 1ST STANLEY CUP

Blackhawks

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (15 players, 1 coach):
Bryan Bickell (name not etched), Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford, Ray Emery (back-up goalie), Michael Frolík, Michal Handzuš, Marcus Krüger, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsíval, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Viktor Stålberg, Mike Kitchen (asst)

Bruins

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (6 players):
Matt Bartkowski, Kaspars Daugaviņš, Dougie Hamilton, Anton Khudobin (back-up goalie), Torey Krug, Wade Redden

Penguins keep heating up; Struggling Stars sink lower

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Is it time for the Dallas Stars to throw Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn under the bus again?

We’re still in October, and things are looking unsettling for a team that navigated some serious highs and lows in 2018-19 to eventually drum up lofty expectations for 2019-20. So far, the Stars have flopped in their encore performance, like a band tripping over all of their instruments while the crowd raises its lighters.

On paper, you’d think it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins who were struggling against the Stars on Friday. After all, they are the team still dealing with injuries to Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad, and Bryan Rust, while the Stars recently got interesting offseason addition Corey Perry back in the lineup.

Instead, the two teams continued on their opposite trajectories. The Penguins keep finding ways to win, in this case riding two Kris Letang goals to a 4-2 win against the Stars, pushing Pittsburgh’s winning streak to five games. Dallas, meanwhile, lost its fifth game in a row (0-4-1), and the Stars saw their overall 2019-20 record sink to a deeply unsettling 1-7-1.

Former PHT editor Brandon Worley captured much of the mood among Stars fans after another dispiriting loss.

Most are shaking their heads in dismay, with some feeling like it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Like many, I didn’t expect Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin, and other Stars goalies to combine for a .923 team save percentage like they did in 2018-19, which towered over last season’s league average of .905.

It absolutely was a red flag that the Stars only marginally outscored the opposition (209 goals for, 200 against) last season despite that Herculean goaltending.

Still, there were signs that Jim Montgomery’s system was putting Bishop and Khudobin in a situation to succeed, and there are elements of a modern puck-moving defense in place. One could picture another step for sizzling sophomore Miro Heiskanen, and the Stars made the playoffs despite dark horse Norris candidate John Klingberg being limited to 64 regular-season games. More Heiskanen, more Klingberg, another step for Roope Hintz, plus the additions of Joe Pavelski and, to a much lesser extent, Corey Perry? There were worse formulas for success heading into 2019-20, so fools like me wondered if the Stars might be able to rekindle that magic.

Luck should improve

And, to be fair, counting the Stars out just a little more than two weeks into 2019-20 would be hasty.

Hintz and Heiskanen are some of the only Stars off to the starts you’d expect, with Seguin parked at four points in nine games, Pavelski only managing one goal and one assist, and Klingberg being limited to a single point.

Things should regress in a positive way, even in the highly likely instance that neither Bishop nor Khudobin will rekindle that 2018-19 magic. Much like the slow-starting Wild, the Stars have played most of their games on the road (six of nine away from home) so far. After Saturday’s trip to Philly to play the Flyers, the Stars play six of seven games in Dallas from Oct. 21 through Nov. 5. The outlook could look quite a bit rosier by the end of that stretch.

It doesn’t change the fact that the Stars dug themselves a formidable hole. While the Stars have a hapless divisional neighbor in the Minnesota Wild, the bottom line is that the Central Division figures to be unforgiving.

A matter of philosophy?

Maybe it’s too early to panic, but it’s absolutely time to ask tough questions. The Stars aren’t that far removed from being one of the most electrifying teams in the NHL, only to turn their back on that formula at the first signs of pushback, instead going the “safer” route of becoming more defensive-minded under Ken Hitchcock and then Montgomery.

It was easier to watch that beautiful thing die when the Stars were winning, yet it’s debatable if dumbing things down by going all-defense is truly the “safe” route, especially with a team fueled by offensive talent from Seguin and Alexander Radulov on offense and skilled defensemen like Klingberg and Heiskanen on the blueline.

Maybe losing to a depleted Penguins teams at least provides another chance to do some soul-searching?

The Penguins carried the Stars’ outscore-your-problems torch once Dallas wavered, and Pittsburgh marched to two consecutive Stanley Cups despite defense that ranged from shaky to shabby. Then, for reasons even more perplexing, the Penguins began to lose confidence in that approach, and ended up losing some ground in the process.

As of Friday, the Penguins and Stars are moving in very different directions, and one can bet that they’ll see other dramatic shifts over an 82-game regular season. Maybe both can provide each other lessons about playing to your strengths and knowing who you are, though.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Nationals’ Scherzer drops ceremonial baseball before Capitals game

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The Washington Nationals have some time to kill before the 2019 World Series after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals, so why not take in a Washington Capitals game … and maybe put a new knuckleball-like spin on a common hockey photo-op?

Instead of dropping the ceremonial first puck before Friday’s Capitals – Rangers contest, three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer elected to drop a baseball instead. You can watch video of that fun ceremony (which vaguely reminded me of Auston Matthews doing a little Globetrotter spin with a Raptors basketball) in the video above. Sports city synergy is fun, is what I’m trying to say.

As a baseball not-knower, this brings up a lot of questions — some I can answer, some not so much.

  • Was it one of those new-fangled “juiced” baseballs? Scherzer probably doesn’t like those, if they’re really a thing.
  • I was wondering about Scherzer’s (maybe somewhat intimidating) different-colored eyes. Apparently Scherzer was born that way, although one eye was blue and the other was green, originally. (The blue eye turned bluer, while the green one turned brown.) Dany Heatley is a hockey player who comes to mind with that, but his story is less fun and more upsetting.
  • CNN clears up the Nationals’ connection to “Baby Shark,” which I wondered about thanks to this:

(Even Capitals fans would probably admit that this is swimming a bit close to San Jose’s waters.)

  • In case you were wondering, that sports city synergy went both ways, as you can see from Alex Ovechkin hugging Scherzer before a Nationals game in June 2018 (via Getty):
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

As of this writing, the Capitals lead the Rangers 3-2 and the New York Yankees are trying to protect a 4-1 lead against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS. If the Astros win, they’ll face Scherzer’s Nationals.

… And that about concludes my baseball-knowing.

/chews imaginary tobacco/Major League Chew

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Devils, Hischier agree to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

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While the Devils don’t know yet if Taylor Hall will sign an extension to remain in New Jersey or find a new home next summer in free agency, GM Ray Shero has young locked down one of the team’s core pieces.

On Friday, Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year, $50.75 million extension that carries a $7.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 NHL season. The deal buys three unrestricted free agent years since the Devils forward has been playing since he was 18, per Cap Friendly.

“Nico is a special person who possess a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed,” said Shero in a statement. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

According to the Devils, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

2020-21: $7,000,000 (includes $3 million signing bonus)
2021-22: $7,250,000
2022-23:  $4,500,000
2023-24:  $7,750,000
2024-25:  $7,750,000
2025-26:  $8,000,000
2026-27:  $8,500,000

The extension also features a modified no-trade clause in the final three years.

In 157 NHL games, Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has 37 goals and 101 points while averaging over 17 minutes a night. His offense has been just fine with a 20 and 17 goals in his first two seasons, but his two-way game is what’s really boosted his talent.

The 20-year-old center joins the list of NHLers who passed on restricted free agency in 2020 to put pen to paper on a new deal, joining the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, and Sam Girard.

Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Strome, and Mikhail Sergachev are some of the other potential 2020 RFAs who will be looking for extensions before next season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Helm fined $5K for slash on Flames’ Lindholm

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Darren Helm and Elias Lindholm had a little battle in the third period of Thursday’s 5-1 Flames win and it has resulted in a $5,000 fine for the Red Wings forward.

It all began during a face-off when Lindholm got taken down by Helm. The Flames forward took exception and skated after Helm as the puck entered the Calgary zone. The tiff continued on with Lindholm throwing an elbow at Helm, who responded by getting up off the ice and slashing Lindholm in the back of the leg.

“Their guy comes with an elbow that should have probably been called right away,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. “Then Darren reacts to that as most guys would, you get an elbow to the face for no reason you’re going to react. We got to be more disciplined in those situations, but he slashed him. I don’t think the slash was that super-hard, but it sure looked hard the way he went down.”

The fine is the maximum amount allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Helm was given a major for slashing and a game misconduct, while Lindholm got off with just an interference minor. Lindholm was helped to the dressing room and there’s been no update yet on his condition.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.